When I think back on my childhood Christmas, there are certain words and memories that stay with me most throughout the years. Silver tinsel, Santa Claus wrapping paper, sticky square bottomed bows, Charlie Brown carols on my tape player, and watching my mom unwrap the gift I bought her each year at the jewelry counter at JC Penney.
Now, well into my 30s, I get to play this amazing role of mother to three small boys on Christmas morning. What a gift. This year, I sat down with family around our kitchen table and we talked about words (A through Z) that come to mind when we think of our Christmas here at home.
Advent Calendar. There are some really inventive Advent calendars nowadays. We stay pretty old school with ours (a throw back to my childhood days) and buy the cardboard picture, perforated sort with waxy chocolate behind each door.
Board Games. This time of year is board game season with puzzles, Scrabble and Monopoly being the usual suspects. Now that most sporting events and school activities have settled down, game nights make a great evening activity before an early bedtime.
Cocoa. Hot cocoa is not a luxury this time of year but a necessity. For years I knew hot cocoa as Hershey’s syrup mixed with milk and popped into the microwave. There are thousands of homemade recipes, but on a cold winter afternoon, nothing beats the recipe on the back of the Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa box.
Decorated Christmas Paper. One of our favorite ways to wrap gifts is to buy a big roll of brown paper (sold at hardware stores) and let the kids decorate each piece before we wrap gifts. They write notes, draw pictures, use stamps and even paint.
Evergreen. Although we don’t buy an evergreen Christmas tree (that’s a long story I can tell you over coffee someday), we do bring elements of greenery into our home with a swag on the mantle and wreath on the door.
Fireplace. It’s a shame every home isn’t built with a chimney. Don’t fret if your home doesn’t have one, candles lit on a cold winter night still create that sense of sparkle and warmth.
Gingerbread Houses. Lord help us, we try each year. The architectural drafts are precise and the baking of the building material promising. But alas, despite our grand efforts, our gingerbread houses resemble gingerbread earthquake survivors. It’s become an endearing part of our holiday ritual.
Handmade Gifts. There are so many great websites, hobby stores and books available that making a gift to give has become incredibly easy, affordable and rewarding. Give it a try this year.
Ives. Burl Ives. Christmas music started in October this year at our house when the kids exclaimed they wanted the Burl Ives station on Pandora for our dinner music.
Jars of Cordial. Speaking of handmade gifts, homemade cordial (which was previously featured in this column with a how-to recipe) is a great gift that needs no wrapping.
Keepsake Journal. Years ago, I bought a Christmas keepsake journal, and each year, I fill out the guided sections it lays out. Holiday visits and visitors, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Christmas Dinner, Special Gifts and Things to remember are what I record.
Linen. Some homes have red and green, others gold or silver. We use yards of natural linen and touches of Irish and Scottish plaid.